Father Hilton Roberts honoured for 60 grace-filled years of service

Fr Hilton Roberts with Fr Simon Falk

Fr Hilton Roberts celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination on Saturday December 1.

The actual anniversary date was November 23, the Feast of St Clement of Rome, and on that date Fr Hilton con-celebrated a Carmelite Mass with Bishop Emeritus Pat Power.

On December 1, Mass was celebrated at St Matthew’s church at midday followed by a lunch at St Matthew’s Primary School Hall. Numerous parishioners were on hand to share and celebrate the occasion with him.

To mark the occasion, Bishop Emeritus Pat Power, who was unable to attend, provided the following tribute.

Tribute to Fr Hilton Roberts
By Bishop Emeritus Pat Power

   I wish every joy and blessing today on Father Hilton and everyone celebrating with him sixty grace-filled years as a priest of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

At our Archdiocesan clergy assembly at Galong last May, I conducted a fascinating interview with Hilton and yesterday week, I was privileged to concelebrate with him at the Carmelite Monastery on the actual anniversary of his ordination. It was always my intention to be with you all today and I especially looked forward to catching up with Hilton’s three sisters and his other extended family members and friends.

As it turned out, I had to make the tough decision to go to Moruya for the funeral Mass of Shane Madden who died suddenly a week ago. His Mass is taking place at exactly the same time as yours.

I don’t know if Shane and Hilton knew each other, but they both were/are beautiful men who responded to God’s grace, especially in their love and service of others. Shane was many things in the legal world, but outstanding as a compassionate magistrate in the ACT Children’s Court.

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Role model

Hilton has been for me the dearest of friends and the best possible model for me in my life as a priest and bishop. Seven years my senior, he has been my confidant, confessor and “companion on the journey”.

With you all, I have been enriched by his preaching which flows authentically out of his personal holiness and reflection on the word of God. He sometimes feels that his great love of reading is self-indulgent but it further provides him with riches to be shared with us all.

Despite his gentle nature, he was always a tough competitor on the squash court. Rarely did I ever manage to beat him or my other old mate, Peter Gannon.

The three of us had a lot of fun together and were part of the same support group, travelling around exotic places in the Archdiocese including going up and down the Clyde Mountain and being given by Hilton a knowledgeable tour of Araluen. But I won’t tell any tales out of school.

Hilton’s musical talents are legendary.

When I went to Propaganda College in Rome in the 1970s to do some further studies, his colourful choir master, Bucci, on finding out that I was from this diocese, immediately enquired about Hilton and spoke of him in very laudatory terms. It was during his time at the College that Hilton played the piano at a concert for Pope John XXIII when he visited “Prop” shortly after his election.

Introduction to Kaleen

I remember well Hilton’s introduction as the first Parish Priest of Kaleen in 1976. At the time, I was the secretary to Archbishop Thomas Cahill. The Mass was to be celebrated on the back verandah of the presbytery with the congregation gathered in the sloping back yard. It was a very Australian setting.

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But as Tommy and I drove into the suburb we were greeted by the music of bells of many of the famous cathedrals of Europe. All this was orchestrated by Eric North, an eccentric former Benedictine monk, a good friend of Hilton. Not often Archbishop Cahill was lost for words but he was that day.

Finally, I want to say how greatly influenced Hilton has been by the Second Vatican Council and  how he has consistently shared its teaching and spirit by word and example.

I know too that, like me, he has been mightily encouraged by Pope Francis since his election five years ago.

Pope Francis and Father Hilton Roberts are about the same age. How indebted we all are to them both for sharing with us the Joy of the Gospel.

Please feel free to add you own comments and tributes below.


Wordpress (1)
  • Jessica Chapman 5 years

    Father Hilton was my childhood priest at St Matthews. I will always remember his kindness and his generosity. From 1996-2002!